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Tengwar Samwise Gamgee

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"I know we are going to take a very long road, into darkness; but I know I can't turn back. It isn't to see Elves now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want – I don't rightly know what I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire."
The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Shortcut to Mushrooms"

Samwise Gamgee, known as Sam, was a hobbit of the Shire. He was Frodo Baggins' gardener and best friend. Sam proved himself to be Frodo's closest and most dependable companion, the most loyal of the Fellowship of the Ring, and played a critical role in protecting Frodo and destroying the One Ring.

Biography

"The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t."
The Two Towers, "The Stairs of Cirith Ungol"

Early life

Samwise Gamgee, Soni A-Hender

Samwise during autumn, by Soni Alcorn-Hender

Sam was the youngest son of Hamfast and Bell Gamgee, and had many brothers and sisters. A gardener by trade, Sam seemed to be a simple Hobbit of plain speech. However, his love for Elves, his gift for poetry, and his belief that the world contained greater wonders than most hobbits were aware of (all nurtured by his tutor Bilbo Baggins) set him apart from the beginning. It was Sam who first introduced (in J.R.R. Tolkien's novels) the theme of the Elves sailing from Middle-earth, a subtle foreshadowing of Bilbo and Frodo's final journey across the sea from the Grey Havens. He lived with his father, Hamfast Gamgee, known commonly as "The Gaffer", on Bagshot Row in the Shire, close to Bag End. He had five siblings: Hamson, Halfred, Daisy, May, and Marigold.

Quest of the Ring

As "punishment" for eavesdropping on Gandalf's conversation with Frodo regarding the dangers of the One Ring while trimming the grass of Bag End, Gandalf chose Sam to be Frodo's companion on his journey to Rivendell. Sam saved Frodo's life more than once during the quest to destroy the Ring, and would accompany him all the way to Mount Doom.

After leaving Bree, Sam became very close to the pony Bill. On arrival at the Doors of Durin Bill had to be set loose as he could not pass through the Mines of Moria. This caused Sam great distress. In Lothlórien Sam was given a gift by the Lady Galadriel; a small box containing soil from her garden along with a Mallorn seed.

Sam and Bill, Kulisz

Sam with Bill the Pony, before the four hobbits had reached Bree, by Anna Kulisz

After Shelob attacked and seemingly killed Frodo, Sam took the Ring, intending to complete the quest on his own. Because he held the Ring for a time, he was considered one of the Ring-bearers and during the time he possessed it the Ring tempted him with visions of a great garden all for himself. Being humble, Sam never gave into the treacherous visions and temptations of the Ring, and returned it when he discovered Frodo alive in the Tower of Cirith Ungol.[1] He and Bilbo were the only ones ever to have given up the Ring willingly, and only Sam surrendered it readily.

Fotr0048

Sam admiring some flowers

When Orcs took Frodo's body, Sam overheard one of them saying that Frodo was still alive, so he followed them into the Tower of Cirith Ungol, determined to rescue Frodo. Once there he found that competing bands of Uruks and Morgul Orcs had rioted and killed one another over the possession of Frodo's Mithril coat, thus making it easier for Sam to get to Frodo and escape the tower with him.

Sam and Frodo made their way to Mount Doom, disguised as Orcs along the way. The way to Mount Doom was filled with fiery rocks and pillows of ash which made it almost impossible for the hobbits to pass. When Frodo collapsed from weakness, Sam carried him up the slopes of Mount Doom, only to be stopped by Gollum. Sam delayed Gollum while Frodo continued towards the Cracks of Doom. Sam then rushed to follow Frodo, only to see Frodo renounce the quest and claim the Ring as his own, putting it on his finger. Unbeknownst to Sam, Gollum had followed in his tracks, and attacked him from behind. In the moments while Sam was dazed, Gollum attacked Frodo, and after a brief struggle took the Ring by force by biting off Frodo's finger. Gollum began to celebrate regaining the Ring, but in doing so slipped and fell to his death in the fiery chasm below, destroying the Ring in the process.[2]

The destruction of the Ring triggered a violent upheaval of Mount Doom, but with Sam's assistance, the two hobbits escaped from Sammath Naur onto the mountainside. Though they attempted to descend, the hobbits were trapped by the issue of lava and fiery ash from the mountain. Before the fire reached them, however, Gwaihir the Lord of the Great Eagles, come at the behest of Gandalf, spotted the hobbits from afar. Landroval and Meneldor, Gwaihir's companions, rescued Sam and Frodo and flew them to the safety of Ithilien.[3]

Sam-0

Sam carries Frodo to the entrance of Mount Doom

Sam and Frodo were healed of their wounds, while still unconscious, by Aragorn upon reaching Ithilien. Sam awoke, to his surprise, to find Gandalf watching over him. Gandalf led Sam and Frodo to the Field of Cormallen, where they were met by a large crowd, who praised the hobbits in many tongues for their heroism and sacrifice. There they met also Aragorn, who revealed himself to the hobbits as the true King of Gondor and Arnor. In the following days, Frodo and Sam were reunited with the surviving members of the Fellowship, and at length, those assembled traveled to Minas Tirith for Aragorn's coronation.[3]

Some months afterwards, Sam, along with a great company including Aragorn, Gandalf, Galadriel, and the other hobbits, left Minas Tirith, traveling towards the Shire by way of Rohan, Isengard, and Rivendell. All but Gandalf left them by the time the company reached Rivendell, and from there the four hobbits returned to the Shire.[4][5] Upon reaching their native country, however, they found it to be usurped by Ruffians and unfriendly hobbits under the rule of Lotho Sackville-Baggins, who had begun the process of turning the Shire into an industrial center. Sam, Frodo, Merry, and Pippin played an instrumental role in what afterwards became known as the Scouring of the Shire, in which the Shire was freed from its ruinous occupation by Ruffians. It was also discovered that Lotho was in fact a puppet of Saruman, who had come north to play his last bit of mischief. Both met their demise in the events prior to and following the Battle of Bywater.[6]

After the War of the Ring

Sam and Rosie at their wedding

Sam and Rosie at their wedding

Following the Scouring of the Shire, Sam married Rose (Rosie) Cotton. They had thirteen children: Elanor the Fair, Frodo, Rose, Merry, Pippin, Goldilocks, Hamfast, Daisy, Primrose, Bilbo, Ruby, Robin, and Tolman. When Frodo Baggins announced that he was leaving to the Undying Lands, west of Middle-earth, he gave Sam the Red Book of Westmarch and Bag End where he and his large personal family, later called the Gardners, would live for many years.[7] After Will Whitfoot resigned his post as Mayor of Michel Delving, in SR 1427, Sam was elected Mayor of the Shire for seven consecutive seven-year terms.

Sam-with-family

Sam with Elanor, Rosie & his son Frodo

Later years

After his wife died in the year 61 of the Fourth Age (SR 1482), Sam entrusted the Red Book to his daughter, Elanor, and left the Shire. It was a tradition handed down from Elanor that he went to the Grey Havens, and because he was also a Ring-bearer (albeit for a short time), he was allowed to pass over the Sea to be reunited with Frodo in the Undying Lands.[8]

Etymology

J.R.R. Tolkien took the name from Gamgee Tissue, a surgical dressing invented by a 19th century Birmingham surgeon called Joseph Sampson Gamgee. "Gamgee" became the colloquial name in Birmingham for cotton wool; Tolkien described why he had chosen that name for his character:


"The choice of Gamgee was primarily directed by alliteration; but I did not invent it. It was caught out of childhood memory, as a comic word or name. It was in fact the name when I was small (in Birmingham) for 'cotton-wool'. (Hence the association of the Gamgees with the Cottons.) I knew nothing of its origin."
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Humphrey Carpenter
Hobbit holes by Matěj Čadil

Sam (far right) gardening and eavesdropping while Gandalf and Frodo talk inside Bag End, by Matěj Čadil

It is possible that Tolkien may have subconsciously recalled Dr. Gamgee (who died in 1886, but is commemorated by a plaque at the Birmingham Medical Institute, only yards from Tolkien's childhood home), but he claimed to be genuinely surprised when, in March 1956, he received a letter from one Sam Gamgee, who had heard that his name was in The Lord of the Rings but had not read the book. Tolkien replied on March 18:


"Dear Mr. Gamgee, it was very kind of you to write. You can imagine my astonishment when I saw your signature! I can only say, for your comfort, I hope, that the 'Sam Gamgee' of my story is a most heroic character, now widely beloved by many readers, even though his origins are rustic. So that perhaps you will not be displeased at the coincidence of the name of this imaginary character of supposedly many centuries ago being the same as yours."
The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. Humphrey Carpenter[9]

He proceeded to send Mr. Gamgee a signed copy of all three volumes of the book. However, the incident sparked a nagging worry in Tolkien's mind, as he recorded in his journal:


"For some time I lived in fear of receiving a letter signed 'S. Gollum'. That would have been more difficult to deal with."
Tolkien: A Biography, Humphrey Carpenter

In Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien states that the Westron form of Sam's name is Banazîr Galbasi (also spelled Galpsi). Banazîr comes from elements meaning "halfwise" or "simple"; Tolkien replaced it with Samwise, a modernization of the ancient English samwís which corresponds closely in meaning. Galbasi comes from the name of the village Galabas. The name Galabas uses the elements galab-, meaning "game", and bas-, corresponding somewhat to "-wich" or "-wick". Tolkien's English translation, Samwís Gamwich, could have come to Samwise Gamgee in modern English. Sam is also known as Perhael in Sindarin.[10]

Commentary

Samwise2

Sam Gamgee as portrayed in Peter Jackson's films

Many regard Sam Gamgee as the "true hero" of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien himself expressed this view in one of his letters, referring to him as the "chief hero", with special emphasis placed on Sam's "rustic love" for Rosie. The quest to destroy the Ring would have failed without Sam, who repeatedly saves Frodo from disaster (rescuing him at Cirith Ungol and carrying him up Mount Doom).

The relationship between Frodo and Sam was, in many respects, at the centre of The Lord of the Rings. To the modern reader, it seems archaic - it is clearly extremely class-oriented: Sam's humbleness and "plain speaking" is frequently emphasized in contrast to Frodo's "gentility", and he often shows deference to Frodo, calling him "Mister Frodo". At the same time, a strong bond of love and trust grows between them, portrayed most poignantly during the events of Cirith Ungol, where Sam vows to return to his (apparently) dead master, to be reunited with Frodo in death.

Tolkienologists regard Sam as Frodo's batman. In the British Army, a batman was an orderly who acted as the personal servant of an officer. It was a role with which Tolkien (who served as an Army officer in the First World War) would have been extremely familiar. Sam undertakes all of the typical roles of a batman - he runs errands for Frodo, he cooks, he transports him (or at least carries him), and he carries his luggage. Tolkien confirmed this interpretation when he wrote in a private letter that:


"My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflexion of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself"
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, page 89, ed. Humphrey Carpenter.

Compare with the relationship between Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza, and the gradual "Quixotization" of Sancho. Jim Butcher also describes Samwise in his book Changes:


"Then you know that Sam was the true hero of the tale. That he faced far greater and more terrible foes than he ever should have had to face, and did so with courage. That he went alone into a black and terrible land, stormed a dark fortress, and resisted the most terrible temptation of his world for the sake of the friend that he loved. That in the end, it was his actions and his actions alone that made it possible for light to overcome darkness"
Sanya, offering his thoughts on Samwise Gamgee's role in The Lord of the Rings to Harry Dresden in Changes by Jim Butcher

Portrayals in adaptations

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Samwise in the 1978 animated film

1978 and 1980 adaptations

Roddy McDowall voiced the character of Samwise Gamgee in the 1980 animated short of The Return of the King, made directly for television. In Ralph Bakshi’s animated version, originally released in 1978, Michael Scholes voiced the character.

Samwise in 1980’s Return of the King

Samwise in the 1980 animated film

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy

There's some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it's worth fighting for.
―Samwise Gamgee

In the Peter Jackson movies The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), Sam was played by Sean Astin. It is not clear whether Astin had heard Nighy's radio performance, but both actors bring very similar characterizations and accents to the role.

Samwise the Brave

Sam confronts Shelob with the Phial of Galadriel in Peter Jackson's third film

In The Two Towers, Faramir brings Frodo, Sam and Gollum into Osgiliath where an ongoing war is occurring with the forces of Minas Morgul. During the chaos of the winged Nazgûl's arrival, Faramir leaves Frodo's side to assist the defenders, and Frodo is uncontrollably lured by the proximity of The Witch-king of Angmar at one of the bridges of the city. He walks to the bridge, and the Ringwraith arises before Frodo on his Fellbeast. Frodo, in a trance, starts extending the One Ring to him, until Sam intervenes and rescues him, and Faramir repels the Fellbeast. Sam gives Frodo extended encouragement after the battle subsides.

Later, as Sam and Frodo walk away from Osgiliath on the other side of the river, after Faramir has freed them, Sam wonders whether he and Frodo would ever be mentioned in songs and stories, pondering how future Hobbits would want to hear about Frodo and his journey to Mordor. Frodo replies that they "would want to hear more about Samwise the Brave", as Frodo "wouldn't have gotten far without Sam".

Then, in The Return of the King, Sam and Frodo keep on their journey to Mordor, where Gollum schemes to divide Sam and Frodo so that he can more easily reclaim the One Ring. Sam has suspected Gollum and his devious ways from the beginning, ready to oppose Gollum's plans as their guide to protect Frodo, being firmly loyal to him.

On the steep stairways toward Cirith Ungol, Sam and Gollum's mutual hate and distrust escalate, and, while the Hobbits sleep, Gollum frames Sam of consuming the last of their lembas bread. Frodo is convinced of this when he awakes, believing also Gollum's lie that Sam desires the Ring for himself, and thus derides Sam angrily and abandons him, proceeding up the stairs with Gollum. Sam is heartbroken, and while descending the stairs in despair, finds the lembas bread that Gollum had tossed at night, realizing his trickery. He finds the courage to turn around, ascend the stairs after them, and try to find and aid Frodo.

After Frodo is forsaken by Gollum in Shelob's lair, Shelob stuns and entangles him in her webs, immediately before Sam arrives, bearing the Phial of Galadriel. He heroically contests with the giant spider, and battles her with the piercing Elvish light and Frodo's sword, Sting. After driving Shelob away, Orcs from the Tower of Cirith Ungol come to the cave and find Frodo's body. They carry it away to the Tower, and Sam follows them, soon rescuing Frodo from being killed by Gorbag after the Orcs have slaughtered each other over Frodo's mithril coat. Frodo repents of having rejected Sam, and the two press on toward Mount Doom, without food or water. While they walk up the desolate slopes of the mountain, Frodo's burden of the One Ring intensifies extremely, and he collapses, but Sam musters all his strength, and carries Frodo on his back.

Sam saves Frodo from death again, by helping resist Gollum's last, vicious attempt to kill Frodo and reclaim the Ring at the Sammath Naur. As Frodo falls from the precipice within Mount Doom with Gollum, Sam helps Frodo back up as Gollum falls to his death with the Ring.

Weeks later, after the coronation of Aragorn, Sam bids Frodo a difficult, fond farewell at the Grey Havens before Frodo and others depart for the Undying Lands. Sam returns to the Shire, and The Return of the King ends with his last words: "I'm back."

142px-Samwisee

Samwise Gamgee with his tinderbox in LEGO: The Lord of the Rings

Radio

  • Victor Platt voiced Sam in the 1955 BBC Radio radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
  • Lou Bliss voiced the character in the 1979 The Mind's Eye radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.
  • Bill Nighy voiced the character in the 1981 BBC Radio serial of The Lord of the Rings.
  • Edgar Hoppe voiced the character in the 1991-1992 German radio serial adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.[11]
  • Jonathan Adams voiced the character in the 1992 radio series Tales from the Perilous Realm in the two episodes of "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil". Sam was portrayed with a very rustic accent.
  • Stano Dančiak voiced the character in the 2001-2003 three-season Slovak radio serial adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.[12]
The Lord of the Rings Online - Samwise Gamgee

Sam in The Lord of the Rings Online

Video games

Voice dubbing actors

Foreign Language Voice dubbing artist
Japanese Shingo Yatsuda (谷田 真吾)
Korean (SBS TV Edition) Sang Bum Lee (이상범)
French (Québec) ????
French (France) Christophe Lemoine
Spanish (Latin America) Irwin Daayán
Spanish (Spain) David Jenner
Catalan
German Patrick Bach
Italian Massimiliano Alto
Portuguese (Brazil) (Television/DVD) Wendel Bezerra
Polish Mieczysław Morański (1978)
Turkish Engin Alkan
Czech Jiří Krejčí
Slovak Michal Domonkoš
Hungarian Kerekes József
Tagalog (Flipino) ????
Russian Gennaduy Karpov (Геннадий Карпов)
Ukrainian ????
Mandarin Chinese (China / Taiwan) Tian Bo (田 波)
Cantonese Chinese (Hong Kong) Chen Jian Hao (陳健豪)
Thai Suphap Chaiwisutthikun (สุภาพ ไชยวิสุทธิกุล) (Kapook)
Wanchai Paowiboon (วันชัย เผ่าวิบูลย์) (Channel 7)
Hindi ????
Tamil ????
Telugu ????
Arabic (MBC TV Edition) ????
Persian ????
Punjabi ????
Urdu ????

Gallery

Samwise Gamgee 1
Sean Astin as Samwise Gamgee
Sam frodo
Sam bidden farewell by Frodo
LEGO Sam Gamegee
Sam as a LEGO minifigure
Pic5D7DC929D2B195EC728B5D71254237AD
A second image of LEGO Sam, with a frying pan
Sam (Leadership)
Sam in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Black Riders Expansion
Sam (Ally)
Sam in The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game - The Thing in the Depths Adventure Pack


Translations

Foreign Language Translated name
Amharic ጻምዊሰ ጛምጌ
Arabic ساموايز غامجي
Aragonese Samsagaz "Sam" Gamyi
Armenian Սեմուայզ Գեմջի
Asturian Samsagaz Gamyi
Belarusian Cyrillic Самўісе Гамгее
Bengali স্যামওয়াইজ "স্যাম" গ্যামজি
Bulgarian Cyrillic Самознай Майтапер
Burmese ဆမ်ဝိုက် "ဆမ်" ဂမ်ဂျီး
Catalan Samseny Gamgí
Chinese (Hong Kong) 山姆衞斯·詹吉
Czech Samvěd "Sam" Křepelka
Danish Samvis Gammegod
Dutch Sam Gewissies
Estonian Tobajuss Mängla
Faroese Samvísi Gamban
French Samsagace "Sam" Gamegie (First translation)

Samsaget "Sam" Gamgie (Second translation)

Galician Samsagaz Gamllí
Georgian სემუაიზ გემჯი
German Samweis "Sam" Gamdschie
Greek Σάμγουαιζ "Σαμ" Γκάμτζι
Gujarati સંવિસે ગંગી
Hebrew סמוויז "סאם" גמג'י
Hungarian Csavardi Samu
Italian Samvise "Sam" Gamgee
Japanese サムワイズ・ギャムジー
Kannada ಸಾಮ್ವಯ್ಸ್ ಗಮ್ಗೀ
Kazakh Сэмуайз Гэмджи (Cyrillic) Sémwayz Gémdjï (Latin)
Korean 감지네 샘와이즈
Kurdish Samways Gamçî (Kurmanji)
Kyrgyz Cyrillic Сэмвайс "Сэм" Гамги
Macedonian Cyrillic Семвајз Гамџи
Malayalam സാംവൈസ് ഗാംജീ
Marathi षम्विसे ङम्गेए
Mongolian Cyrillic Самвайз (Сэм) Гамжи
Nepalese षम्विसे ङम्गेए
Norwegian Sam Vismann Gamgi (Werenskiold tr.)
Samvis "Sam" Gamgod (Bugge Høverstad tr.)
Pashto صامویسې عامګېې ?
Persian سم‌وایز گمجی
Polish Samwise "Sam" Gamgee (Skibniewska tr.)

Samlis Gaduła (Łoziński tr.)

Portuguese Samwise "Sam" Gamgi (Brazil)
Russian Сэмуайз Гэмджи
Sanskrit षम्विसे ङम्गेए
Scottish Gaelic Samglic "Sam" Gaimdsidh
Serbian Самwисе Гамгеe (Cyrillic) Samwise Gamgee (Latin)
Sinhalese සමුප් ගැම්බි
Slovak Samved "Sam" Mukro
Slovenian Samoglav Gamgi
Spanish (Spain and Latin America) Samsagaz "Sam" Gamyi
Swedish Sam Gamgi
Tajik Cyrillic Самwисе Гамгее
Tamil சம்வைஸ் கேஜ்ஜீ
Telugu సమైఖ్య గేజి
Thai แซมไวส์ แกมจี
Ukrainian Cyrillic Самwісе Ґамґее
Urdu سیموائز گامجی
Uzbek Самwисе Гамгэ (Cyrillic) Samwise Gamge (Latin)
Yiddish סאַמוויסע גאַמגעע
The Fellowship of the Ring
Frodo Baggins
Samwise Gamgee
Meriadoc Brandybuck
Peregrin Took
Gandalf
Aragorn Elessar
Legolas Greenleaf
Gimli son of Gloin
Boromir
Frodo · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Legolas · Gimli · Boromir



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Locations: Middle-earth · Gondor · Mordor · Rohan
Other: Mithril · Middle-earth Strategy Battle Game · The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings · Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien · The Lord of the Rings · The Lord of the Rings (1978 film) · Ainulindalë · Tolkien vs. Jackson · Tengwar · Quenya

References

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